Stuff breaks - it's as simple as that. This time a USB connected 1 TByte 3,5" Western Digital Caviar GreenPower - WD10EAVS died a sudden death. It took a fall from a height of 50 cm (19 inch) during full operation. It ended up as box with faint clicking sounds inside. Here's the postmortem story with an autopsy and the remaining stuff one can do to compensate the damage done.
Related to 1 TB disks : Cheap but unreliable 1 TB Samsung Spinpoint F1 disk
Big disks, BIG Risks
A noted in the story The Tera Era - Big Disks - Big Risks, crashing a 1TByte disk is a BIG crash. So as a first warning to others; also operating a 1 TeraByte disk stuffed to the max? Get a second one FAST and backup your stuff. Or go Pro and make such big disks a part of a RAID system. Disks of huge sizes are not the ones to be rely on as a lone backup disk.
Western Digital Warranty check
Now, about the 1 TByte Western Digital Caviar GreenPower, it has the production date 14 July 2008, it crashed 9 months later so at least there must be some kind of warranty on the disk. Typing the Serial Number at the Western Digital Warranty services section came up with "No Limited Warranty" - meaning Western Digital provides no warranty, as it was part of a different system. Which is true, the disk lived in Sitecomm USB 2.0 case with SATA interface. Next to this, the most likely cause of failure is a head crash, which is usually outside warranty anyway. The Caviar range is not designed to cope with shocks from a 50 cm (19 inch) fall during full operation.
Western Digital disk diagnostic tool
Western Digital provides free tools for disk diagnostics, so let's see what comes up. The Data Lifeguard Diagnostic tool from the western digital website was installed & let loose on the USB connected WD10EAVS disk. The Quick Test returned a cable communication error, which in this case seemed a bit odd, since it was USB connected. As a 2nd test a different Western Digital disk was connected over the USB interface - the communication worked ok - the quick test produced "passed". So cable communication error somehow has to do with a failure in the disk. Not much to be done about it, the disk did nothing more than continue it's clicking noise, even after the test.
Underneath the TeraByte disk hood
With any chance of repair or warranty, time for a small autopsy. Let's open the cover and have a look under the hood of the GreenPower Caviar disk. It took 7 torque screws and breaking the warranty seal to lift the cover.
Underneath 3 disks and 6 heads, a fine piece of mechatronic engineering. No signs that could explain the clicking noise of the disk. The heads in the picture below are moved by hand to a position on the disk. Amazingly the heads sort of stick to the surface of the disks - it took a but of force to move them back to the plastic head parking. (the yellow stand)
Amazingly, the disks itself are quite thick. In another session the disk is operated without the cover on, to see where ticking sounds comes from.